Sean Turner receives Plater Medallion on strength of military, paramedic service

Senior Sean Turner wonders if maybe he didn't explain his experience very well to the Top 100 committee or if the community impact of military, firefighter and police personnel wasn't clear enough. Regardless, being overlooked still stung, which makes winning a William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion that much sweeter.

The Plater Medallion honors graduating undergraduate and graduate students at IUPUI who have demonstrated a commitment to the community and civic mindedness. Their community engagement may include activities such as volunteer service at a nonprofit agency or abroad, participation in service-learning courses, or involvement with a faculty member on a community-based research project.

In other words, Plater Medallion recipients are recognized for their contributions to the campus community and beyond. Turner's win falls into the latter category.

"I'm a joint terminal attack controller, which is basically the guys who go with certain people and call in airstrikes," said Turner, a service member with the U.S. Air Force who has worked multiple times in Slovakia through a partnership Indiana has with Eastern European countries. "It's kind of a big thing for Slovakia because they don't have a lot in the way of assets to mitigate aggression from Russia. They don't have that many planes, but training those guys could facilitate a NATO collaborative force to mitigate that."

Before his current service with the Air Force, Turner joined the Army out of high school and saw three deployments of about a year each in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. His life's service record also includes working as a firefighter and paramedic in his hometown of Cincinnati. Now he continues to impact lives in Indiana while finishing his degree as a nontraditional student.

"I'm a paramedic in the Wayne Township Fire Department. I work in one of the rougher areas of Wayne Township by choice. That's what I'm more familiar with from the places I worked in Cincinnati. I feel like you can do the most good there," Turner said. "A lot of the time, people call 911, and they don't exactly know what's going on with them. I think most of what I do that is beneficial is educating people about their body and their situation.

"You can explain to someone why they're having chest pain that's not heart-related because maybe they just got diagnosed with acid reflux or something as simple as that. It sounds simple if you have that knowledge, but if you haven't had the same opportunities as other people, if you don't have that education, it can be a scary thing. Educating them saves them an ambulance trip, an emergency room bill and the anxiety associated with the pain."

Turner will graduate in May with a degree in general studies for which he focused on math and science. That will translate well for his next goal -- medical school.

Turner and the 49 other recipients received their medallions at the IUPUI Robert G. Bringle Civic Engagement Showcase April 10 at the Campus Center Theater. This year's honorees came from 15 different schools and included 27 undergraduates and 23 students pursuing master's or professional degrees.